All the Xtra Miles:
Three Months of Nothing But XMR
- 02/10/2016 -
The end of 2016 is bulging with Xtra Mile Recordings bands – 9 new album releases, 19 bands on tour. We've gathered some fan advice on how to see as much of your favourite music as you can in these next three months. Get ready to go all the Xtra Miles.
Before we get to advice on how to make the most of the next three months, we've gathered some touring facts about Xtra Mile's end of 2016 blowout. A little way down below, we've also arranged a competition for you. You'll need to be going to a fair amount of our shows in the next few months, but if you're up for the challenge, read on.
But before that: FACTS!
- We have 19 of our bands on tour. That's around 80% of our current roster.
- There are around 264 tour dates in around 230 venues. If nothing else, this shows the lengths that our bands are going to get to as many people as possible – there just aren't that many repeat venues on all of these tours.
- There are two unbroken 36 date runs where, somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, an Xtra Mile band is playing each night: 11 October to 13 November and 15 November to 22 December.
- The two dates with the most bands playing are 7th and 9th of December. Nine bands will play each of these nights. Those artists are Against Me! (Manchester and Glasgow), Beans on Toast (Portsmouth and Swansea), Chris T-T (Bristol and London), Frank Turner and Esmé Patterson (Newcastle and Nottingham), Northcote and Drag the River's Jon Snodgrass (Munich and Berlin), Recreations and Rob Lynch (Tübingen and Weinheim), and Will Varley (Münster and Hamburg).
- 143 towns and cities will receive Xtra Mile artists for shows, across 9 countries – that's a lot of different places for so few border crossings
Want to know where and when people are? Click the gigs tab at the top of the page for dates and tickets for all our artists. Also check their webpages and social media.
Not much for going out or prefer your music coming from earphones and home speakers? Between the 16 September and the end of the year, we will have released 103 songs across nine albums. That's a hell of a lot of minutes of music for you all. This does not include any EPs, and only 10 live (non-studio) tracks, though these recordings have not been released anywhere else before. You can buy or preorder all of these below.
We're giving away a mystery grab bag of XMR stuff to a handful of lucky fans. What do you have to do? Well, anyone who manages to attend over TEN Xtra Mile gigs from the beginning of September until the end of the year is in with a chance. How will we know you've done it? Honesty and a bit of evidence.
Take a photo or video, adding the date, band and location of the gig in the caption / post, with a little bit about why you've come to see the band in question (but remember date, band and location are mandatory) and post it to Twitter or Instagram. We'll accept Facebook too but only if your posts are set to public, so we can see them. Tag them with #XMRtour so we can see them all. We'll count them all up once the season is over and select the winners among those who attended over ten gigs. You can also send links to posts or screenshots to us via email but ONLY after you've reached that important number of ten gigs. Send them to: Valerie@xtramilerecordings.com.
ADVICE ON GETTING TO AS MANY GIGS AS POSSIBLE (YOU'RE GONNA NEED IT)
We want you to get to as many gigs as you can in the next three months. We've gathered some Xtra Mile fan advice and stories on travelling for shows, tips on getting around and accommodation and more. Have fun reading, but TAKE IT SERIOUSLY as it's not every season you have the opportunity to see 80% of the Xtra Mile roster out on the road. We also have a competition for the hardcore among you. More on that at the end.
TIMING / COST
This is the most important bit. Sure, you may want to see every band this autumn, but realistically you can't split yourself in five directions and have the same amazing experience. You'll be dead probably and dead ain't good. There are some practical things you can do to help though and maximise fun and affordability in terms of money and time.
I started putting my calendar information into a spreadsheet and colour code the entries. It helps me see potential clashes much faster than me scribbling on an actual calendar.
Every time I get a notification of a gig I might want to go to, I add it to the calendar to see if it is worth trying to get a ticket for. The calendar helps because I can see what tickets I have, I can see potential clashes, and I can see if there might be travelling involved which I will have to allow extra time and money for.
Costs start with a budget: how much money do I allow myself per month for gigs? Once I have a budget I am not allowed to spend more than that, and the budget has to include the ticket and the transport AND money for merch, and money to stay over in case I can’t get back the same night.
I also buy tickets in advance so this month’s money might be paying for a gig that is not for another two, three or maybe even six months' time. Once this month’s money is gone though, it’s gone.
If I manage to get to the end of the month and have not spent my allowed budget, whatever is left goes into a pot reserved for accommodation costs for away gigs as that is always expensive.
How much leave from work I have left is my first consideration, always. I've traveled more than a week more than once, across continents and countries, and time is my main constraint. Cost is an issue naturally - although I'm fortunate to be settled in my career so it isn't as big an issue as it once was. Another consideration is to think about who's going and how long it's been since I've seen them. I want to get to Germany this year to see my German friends. I haven't seen them all at once since February, and I'll want to get back to the US next year if I can (realistically, probably 2018) to see those guys, too.
PEOPLE (as in gig buddies)
Perhaps the greatest thing about gigging, other than seeing an artist you really enjoy, are the other people sharing the space. Whether with friends or making new ones, gigs are social experiences that can enhance your evening and create memories to last until the next morning, at least.
I have from time to time gone to a gig purely because someone I know, and probably met at another gig, is going to be there. These gig buddies all have great gig etiquette.
I have met some truly awesome, wonderful and utterly amazing people through going to gigs, we have even organised gigs just so we can all meet up. We help each other out with finding or sharing accommodation, and sometimes the only reason I am at a gig is because a gig buddy told me they thought I would like the band, and 99 times out of a hundred I have.
Normally I go solo, unless someone is actively staying with me. That doesn't mean I'm alone at the gig, or even before - I have a couple of gig buddies in almost every major city in the world. I just prefer to travel by myself. I like my own company, and as my husband doesn't enjoy live music, this is often a time for the both of us to get some time alone.
Although I do and have gone to shows alone, where I don't know anybody, and I enjoyed that. I have seen people (usually young women) tweet Frank that they don't want to go alone, or ask if it's ok to go alone to a show, and I say YES GO! Firstly, if you genuinely don't want to be alone, the odds are great you will find someone to talk to. This is especially true if there's a queue to get in - even if you're not a person who normally wants to be on the barrier, maybe go join that queue and get there early. You'll meet a heap of friendly folks sitting around and you'll have something to talk to them about.
Bottom line though is if you go solo to gigs, it's fine. Nobody will notice, nobody will call you a loser, nobody will bother you (I hope).
I hate to have to say these words but if you are a solo gig goer and a woman, don't be afraid to ask for help if someone is touching you or being sexual or annoying and you want them to stop. Ask someone in the crowd for help, go to security, etc. Don't put up with it, it's not ok.
Travel is fun and harrowing in equal measure; just ask our bands. This is where priorities and planning make all the difference. Work out what you want and need, how to enhance the gig experience, and whether any extra effort will be rewarded in full. Mel and Isabelle have some help or you on this too.
I’ve been doing this for a while now, although the first ten years of going to gigs I rarely travelled outside the city I lived in.
In 2011 I took my first flight to go and see a band I loved. The idea was terrifying to me… sooooo much money just to see a band a play! The rough breakdown of that trip is like this:
Gig ticket - £30
Return Flight - £50
Getting to and from airport my end - £20
Getting to from airport at the gig end - £10
Accomodation - £40
2 days Food - £20
Merch - £20
TOTAL - £190.
I can tell you it was worth every penny. It is also not something I can afford to do very often.
If you swap the cost of the flight for train or coach tickets this is pretty close to the cost of me traveling to another city to stay overnight.
If I want airfare, I use the standard discount sites. I also use Tripit (the app) and I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS ENOUGH if you are doing multiple dates/places. It organised all your booked travel and tickets for you and tells you if you've clashed or missed something. You can see at a glance your flight/train, hotel, tickets, etc. There's maps included from here to there, and if there's a delay it updates you in real time and tells you your alternatives and will also text this to you.
TRAVEL AND ACCOMODATION
Getting around and staying in a town or city can be daunting if you're new to it, or just part and parcel of seeing bands if you're an Xtra Mile fan. Seeing bands in other parts of the country / world is just another way of making new friends and having the best stories to tell when you get home.
Book as far in advance as you can to get the best deals. This goes double for accommodation if you cannot walk very far for any reason, as the places closest to a venue will sell out first.
Also always consider - is a deal a deal? Is a hostel really cheaper than a more expensive hotel room if it's miles away from the venue and public transport has stopped? Is a flight really cheaper if it's coming into somewhere miles away from where you need to be? I've gotten some great deals through Booking.com.
Also hotels are great if you share beds/rooms. Memorably I've been in a room in Florida with six people in it, and we had a blast and I would stay with all of those ladies again, no question. There was Canadian whiskey and all sorts of laughs.
One nice thing about fandom is friends in other places! I often offer to have people stay with me, and this is usually great. As a result, I have places to stay when I travel to shows. Plus, I wouldn't trade the experience of having people stay with me, it's heaps of fun and if you can offer I recommend it.
In the UK trains are often faster but also more expensive. One tip is to look at what stations the train calls at and take the time to see if you can get a couple of single tickets rather than one ticket for the whole journey.
Coach and Bus
Coaches may take longer than trains, but if you have time they can save you money, especially if you book in advance. Tickets for Megabus are normally available three months before date of travel and can be as low as 50p plus £1.00 booking fee.
THIS YEAR'S PLANS, STORIES AND OTHER ADVICE
Here's some miscellaneous advice, tales of long drives and many shows, and what people might be up to this autumn and winter with XMR.
I am, by way of explanation, a person who has lived in three countries, been to shows on three continents, and on the ocean. I've traveled for music to Germany, Florida, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Also a cruise.
Currently I'm almost out of leave so for XMR my travel plans are evenings and weekends, which, being in the UK (as opposed to Australia) is much easier than you'd think. I am travelling to Derby to see Non Canon, Sad Song Co (Nigel Powell), and Chris TT. Also for Non Canon I'll travel to Bristol. There's gigs in London and Tooting as well. For Will Varley, I'm travelling to Brighton, as he doesn't have much on the weekend. For Frank Turner, I'm travelling to Reading, Norwich, Guildford and Portsmouth. For Skinny Lister, I'm travelling to Leicester.
How many gigs? Oh what, this year? I...don't know, maybe 70 including local shows. I've seen Will Varley 33 times in a year, so there's that. I did a festival and a cruise and four countries. I went to Germany for the first time (and loved it so much I went back on a holiday with my husband.) I took a visiting friend to the English coast to see Will Varley play 3 1/2 songs just so we had something fun to do all day (and we nearly drowned in cider). I've been all over England (although not yet Wales or Cornwall or Ireland or Scotland). I've been to places so small the train line they were on had stops where you had to ask the conductor to stop the train. I was at a show at Ally Pally last November with 12K people. So yeah, heaps of places and hoping for many more.
I'm not going farther than 20 miles this time for Frank Turner. But last October, my friend flew from Tampa to Philadelphia and I drove from Saratoga Springs, NY to Philadelphia to meet up. We stayed with friends of mine that she hadn't ever met. In fact, her flight came in so late that she never even got to meet our hosts until my friend arrived in the basement (where we were sleeping) with coffee the next morning. We then went on to see the in-store performance in Baltimore and the show in Baltimore. We drove from Philly to Baltimore, she flew back to Tampa from Baltimore and I drove back to upstate NY.
In June, I flew from Albany to Tampa and the two of us went to the St Pete, Ft Lauderdale, and Orlando shows. We had such a great time in October that we couldn't pass up the opportunity to do it again and Florida had the best scheduling for multiple shows. We only had to spring for a hotel one night--in Ft Lauderdale. Which is really why the whole thing was possible. Flights were pretty cheap, but multiple hotel nights would have killed the budget!
I suspect we'll look for ways to do it again at least once per year. Maybe other friends will join us (I have other, local, friends ready to go to the Clifton Park show and maybe they'll want to come along next time). We look for shows where we can make a long weekend of it so we don't have to take time away from work. For me, that's important because I own my business and time away is sparse. Plus, my husband doesn't love the idea of me traveling for shows (the freak doesn't much enjoy live music!). But I'll do it as often as I can. I haven't had something in my life that was this much fun in a really long time.
I've traveled for shows quite a while now. I traveled from Paris, France to Mainz, Germany for Green Day (my first love). As for Xtra Mile things I've flown from Germany to England, Germany to Luxembourg, Germany to Prague, North Germany to South Germany. Basically if it's on a weekend I'll try to be there.
I saved my pennies to be on the (Salty Dog) cruise after I read the Xtra Mile artists being there. I took leave to go to 2000trees (best damn decision of my life!). I work basically to go to shows. I try to take cheap planes, trains, and buses. I usually stay with people I've met through shows. My first travel shows I stayed at cheap ass motels and hotels. This round I'll be seeing Will Varley two, maybe three times in Germany, and Frank Turner once in Edinburgh.
I plan to head to see Frank in Delaware and Clifton Park in NY. I just saw him in Reading PA.
I always drive and decide gigs based on how close the drive is, and if it is it in a cool town (I drove up to Montreal, for example). I work from home and my schedule is semi-flexible plus I know how to maximize my work to get away early. I stayed in a Holiday Inn parking lot in my car a couple of times. It’s pretty safe and they have a free breakfast and a bathroom in the morning. Otherwise, I usually drive home.
Usually I'm either solo or I take my 8 year old daughter. I do meet up with a friend sometimes, and I have made so many Frank Turner Army friends, that there is always someone to hang with at a show.
I'm motivated by Frank Turner's message to not waste time, and to get up and do things. Being married with three kids, I need to pick and choose what I can do, but my wife lets me go to all the Frank shows I want. This autumn, I am going to see Bad Religion and Against Me! in NJ, Frank Turner in Delaware and NY, Will Varley and Beans on Toast in NY, and I would be going to Skinny Lister but I think I may have a work trip during the week they are doing shows near me…Boo!
It’s kind of interesting that I never traveled for shows until recent years unless it was a special event. And that meant two hours to the nearest large city. But since discovering Frank Turner’s music in 2009, it has become common to look up favorite bands’ tours, then begin working out details to get to at least a few shows. I think what changed in 2009, is that Frank came over maybe once or twice a year, so I felt the need to get a lot of “bang for my buck.” Then my kids got older requiring less of me. But I think the biggest factor that began the desire to travel for shows was making friends through the fandom. I just really wanted to see them, and spend time with them. I love the sightseeing adventures we embark upon, and the meet ups where we meet new folks. Also, my daughter and I share a love for some of the same bands. She doesn’t care for my “bearded, gravely voiced shouty guys with guitars,” but we travel together at times for other artists. We will be traveling to South Carolina, then Georgia to see Skinny Lister in November.
Work scheduling is my biggest obstacle. My work schedule goes out eight weeks ahead of time; tours are often not announced yet. So, sometimes I am forced to do weekend shows only. But if I have sufficient notice, I will try to do three shows or so. I work graveyard shift, so sometimes I am driving straight to work from the airport (hoping to catch a nap on the flight.)
Once I have the time off, I take to the inter webs to see who else might be going to the shows, so that we can meet up, drive together, share rooms, that kind of thing. But even if no one I know will be at a show, it doesn’t deter me at all. I will meet someone.
If I don’t know a city or venue, I go to ConcertHotels.com and get an idea of hotels that are close to the venue. Then I decide if I want to stay close by, or see if driving / Ubering is an option. I go to a discount site to get the room IF I am 100% not canceling. Otherwise I go through the hotel website so that the ability to cancel is there.
My favorite way to do shows is to “road trip” with friends. Though everyone does shows differently and you must be willing to break off on your own and let people do their own thing.
As an older person who has abused their back lifting heavy patients, I must make accommodations. I need to lean. So if I don’t get there early enough to lean on the front rail, I accept that, and find a different leaning spot, and still enjoy the show. I recognize center pit is not for me. But off center is okay with most bands. My bag always contains Advil. I always have musicians earplugs (I’m often near the speakers.) My shoes have insoles. I always have a spare battery charger and cord. Some Emergen-C everyday, and I’m good to go.
I've seen great tours this year so far including the Flogging Molly Salty Dog Cruise, which is annual for me, because my “family" is there every year. FEST in Gainesville is also annual for the same reason. Plus I generally have a houseful staying with me, which makes for good times. Xtra Mile bands are not the only bands I travel for exclusively, but definitely the overwhelming majority. Why? I just love so many of their artists. I am traveling in October to see Against Me!/Dave Hause/Bad Religion. Then in November to multiple Skinny Lister shows.
I find myself asked incredulously from work friends all the time about the time and expense in “going to concerts”. These are the same people that spend tons more money traveling to see the Florida Gators play every sport everywhere. I keep track of my shows on ConcertArchives.com, and so far this year I’ve seen 40 shows (counting the entire cruise and festivals as one show). It’s killing me that I can’t see any Frank Turner headline shows this fall. Not that I accept that. Every night I check to see if there is suddenly an inexpensive flight to a weekend show.
So, yeah, nothing Earth-shattering here. Like everyone, I have to juggle jobs and expense. I’m not willing to go into debt. Very little goes on credit cards. But if I am not on the road for say a month, I begin to miss people so much, and feel out of sorts.
In November I'm going to one local XMR show, Skinny Lister at the Middle East in Cambridge MA, and I'm also going to Clifton Park NY to see Frank Turner and Will Varley. That one's actually kind of a funny story. I was still on the fence about whether or not I was going to go when I started getting tagged into FB statuses about it. One friend said I could crash on her floor if need be, and another said she was renting a car and asked if I wanted to ride with her, so basically travel arrangements were made for me. In fairness, it doesn't take much effort to peer pressure me into going to a Frank Turner show.
I prefer road trips with buddies, but if I'm traveling alone I like to take the train. Time of year is a big factor for me. I work in a seasonal economy, so it doesn't matter how much I love a band. If they hit Massachusetts in October I cannot go. But if they play in September or November I can definitely swing it. November shows are my favorite, because I'm flush with Halloween money so I can take a couple days off work without hurting my finances too badly.
Taking time off from work is the hardest aspect of going to shows for me. I don't have any paid time off, so I try to work as much as I can. I'll try to work half days if I can swing it, but getting in early enough to line up super early and hang with my friends will sometimes take priority over working a shift. Gig-buddies are awesome because they can help with travel costs, and on the rare occasions I've needed to get a hotel I've had good luck with discount websites.
Ideally I travel to a show, enjoy myself greatly, and return home that night. But I've stayed on friends' couches and floors, in a hotel room split with gig-buddies, in a hotel room I treated myself to, in a hostel, or just slept on the train. I prefer to go to shows with friends but have happily gone alone as well, and I usually make new friends in the process.
I only have three gigs upcoming at the moment, one in New York and two in Boston. This year I have traveled to a few different states though. I've seen a few shows in Boston, and then I've also traveled to Connecticut, Florida, South Carolina, and New Hampshire.
Advice I have for people is to travel as light as possible. After seeing some friends make excellent use of denim vests lined with pockets, I modified one for my travels. I extended a pocket on one side so that it fits a book and a t-shirt, should I choose to buy one at the show. The large pocket on the other side holds purse-type items (phone, wallet, keys), and the little one on the outside holds my lipstick. I also have a special wallet and key ring I bring to shows that are more compact than my everyday versions, and I keep my earplugs in a key chain so that I don't forget them, since tinnitus is a thing that I would like to avoid. I also try to have cough drops on me since I've blown my voice out singing along with particularly emotional songs in the past.